Urban History

  • Urban History / Volume 36 / Issue 03 / December 2009, pp 379-398
  • Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009. The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/>. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0963926809990113 (About DOI), Published online: 30 October 2009

Research Article

Medical advertising and trust in late Georgian England


a1 School of Arts, Histories and Cultures, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL


This article explores the nature of trust in the fast growing and rapidly changing urban environments of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century England through an examination of medical advertisements published in newspapers in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield between 1760 and 1820. The ways in which medicines were promoted suggest not just a belief that the market in medicines operated both rationally and fairly, but also a conception that a trustworthy ‘public’ existed that was not limited to the social elite but was instead constituted of a more socially diverse range of individuals.


* I am grateful to the Wellcome Trust for funding this project. I am also thankful to Charlotte Wildman and Lucinda Matthews-Jones for their work as research assistants and to the following for comments and suggestions: Michael Brown, Tim Davies, Paul Fouracre, Penelope Gouk, Julian Hoppit, John Pickstone, Pedro Ramos-Pinto, Richard Rodger, Rosemary Sweet and Mick Worboys. I am particularly grateful to Urban History's anonymous readers for their insightful remarks.